Frozen Foods to the Rescue
Feeding a family - or just yourself for that matter - requires making smart choices, and frozen foods can fill the bill.
Researchers looked at blueberries, strawberries, broccoli, green beans, corn, spinach, cauliflower and peas. In most cases, the frozen produce had as many nutrients as the newly purchased fresh samples, and sometimes more than the fresh ones kept in the refrigerator.
Frozen peas had more vitamins C, A and folate than fresh peas that had been stored, and frozen corn and blueberries also topped the fresh stored folate levels.
Many people share the fear that freezing foods reduces the nutrient benefits; however, freezing actually locks in many of the nutrients.
Frozen Food Facts
- Do not buy frozen food unless they are frozen solid and do not contain ice crystals, which may be the result of thawing and refreezing.
- Keep a frozen food inventory; foods tend to get lost in a large freezer.
- Almost 97 percent of Americans eat ice cream regularly, however, the switch to low fat yogurt is gaining momentum.
- The average American consumes 15 quarts of ice cream annually.
- To avoid freezer burn and ice crystals forming on foods, wrap the foods with plastic wrap or freezer paper and cover with tin foil. If you are storing foods for an extended period of time, also place the packaged food in a sealed freezer baggie.
- A high quality ice cream has a butterfat content of 15 percent.
- Frozen sandwiches will thaw by lunchtime, butter the bread and it will not absorb the filling.
- Frozen foods are more nutritious than canned foods due to the method of processing.
- Make your own frozen TV dinners from leftovers. They will be much higher in nutritional value than most store bought ones.
- Date all frozen foods using a piece of tape or permanent marker pens.
- Refreezing food will lower the quality. When foods are frozen the cellular fluid expands into crystals and causes a break in the cell membrane, disrupting other structures, thus changing the texture of the food. This may alter the taste of the food as well as dairy products since bacterial growth starts when they warm-up and refreezing may just place the bacteria in a state of animation until the food is thawed out.
- Remember the longer you freeze, the better the chances are to lose a percentage of the food quality.
- Seal all freezer wrapped foods as well as possible so that freezer burn will not occur, double wrapping will help.
- A good trick when you go away on a vacation is to place a baggie with a few ice cubes in the freezer. If a power failure occurs while you are gone and the food thaws and then refreezes, you will know about it when you get home.
- Baker's yeast will freeze for years without going bad.
- If you freeze wild rice it will last for three to four months but only a week in the refrigerator.
- A corned beef roast can be kept for up to one week in the refrigerator and up to two weeks if frozen.
- Always remove meat from store packages and re-wrap using special freezer paper or aluminum foil if you are planning to freeze meats for more than two to three weeks.
- Chops, cutlets and hamburgers should be freezer wrapped individually. This will assure maximum freshness and convenience.
- Brown sugar will not harden if stored in the freezer.
- Save the wrappings from sas of butter or margarine. Keep them in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for future use in greasing baking utensils.
- Unsalted butter can be stored in the freezer indefinitely if it is wrapped and sealed airtight. Salted butter can be stored for a shorter period of time in its original container with no wrapping.
- Leftover whipped cream: Drop dollops of whipped cream on a cookie sheet, then freeze before storing in plastic bags.
- Freeze eggs whole or separated. Egg whites may get tough when frozen in a potato or macaroni salad.
- Freeze fish in clean milk cartons full of water. When thawing the fish, use the water for fertilizer on household plants.
- Flour can be frozen.
- Honey can be frozen in ice cube trays. If the honey becomes granulated, simply place the cubes in a jar and place in very hot water.
- If ice cream thaws it should not be re-frozen.
- Fruits and vegetables should be frozen at their peak of flavor.
- The freezer in your refrigerator is not the same as a food freezer. It is best used for storing foods for short periods only. Foods should be frozen as quickly as possible and temperatures should be 0 degrees or below.
- Jelly, salad dressing and mayonnaise do not freeze well on bread products.
- When freezing casseroles, cook for a shorter period of time than normal, then cool quickly to stop cooking action. Make sure it is packed as solidly as possible, the fewer air spaces the better.
- To prolong the freezer storage time for roasted meats, cover them with gravy.
- Meat loaf may be frozen cooked or uncooked.
- Potatoes will become mushy when frozen in stews or casseroles. Their cells are high in water content and break easily when frozen.
- Any bakery item with a cream filling should not be frozen. They will become soggy.
- Custard or meringue pies do not freeze well. The custard tends to separate and the meringue will become tough.
- Mashed potatoes freeze well.
- Waffles and pancakes may be frozen, then thawed and cooked in the toaster.
Healthier Frozen Fish Options
More healthful frozen options are now available that are unbreaded and feature a variety of seasonings, herbs and marinades. Though the less nutritional pollock that companies have traditionally favored for breaded fillets and fish sticks still dominate, omega-3 rich salmon can now be found alongside tiliapia, sole and more. And safety need not be a concern; the fish used for frozen fare are not the large predator fish that harbor toxins in amounts potentially dangerous for pregnant women and small children. New offerings are pan seared or flash-grilled to partially cook them, then are individually wrapped to allow you to cook only what you need. Additional cooking time is needed, sacrificing a bit of convenience, but it's a plus for taste and nutrition.
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